Home Ask The Experts Exercise and Sleep

Exercise and Sleep



For a while now, I’ve been having trouble sleeping. The issue started when I got to school, and it seems to get less severe when I’m back home. I have a theory about what’s happening: when I’m at home, I’m with my sister, who ropes me into going on jogs and exercising. When I’m at school, my sister isn’t there–and neither is the exercise.


So what I’m thinking is that my exercise is the reason I get good sleep at home. Is that true? If so, what can I do to get more exercise at school? I don’t have the willpower to just go jogging all the time.


Our sleep schedule depends on a lot of things. It depends, of course, on when we head to bed and what time we set our alarms for, but our circadian rhythms can be affected by far more than just those things. Our highly sensitive sleep cycles can be affected by what we eat, the temperature of our bedrooms, and, yes, how much exercise we’re getting.


The studies that link exercise to sleep patterns are pretty conclusive. There’s plenty of reason to believe that you’ve identified the problem correctly. Perhaps you should rethink your stance on willpower and running. Or maybe, as you seem to hope, you can find a way to fit exercise into your life in a way that’s less disruptive. Something as simple as taking the long way to and from class (walking, of course) could help, as could taking up a physical hobby. If running isn’t your speed (no pun intended), then maybe you should take up dancing, suggest instructors at Montclair, Pennsylvania’s Arthur Murray Dance Studio.


Of course, just because exercise affects our sleep schedules doesn’t mean it’s the sole culprit here. Sleep is a complicated thing, say researchers at JFK Medical Center’s New Jersey sleep disorder assessment and treatment center. There’s a lot that could be affecting your sleep, as we’ve established, and college is a hotbed for activities that can throw off our rhythms. Late nights studying or partying and early-morning classes make getting sleep tough. Alcohol consumption, changes in diet, and unfamiliar surroundings can all mess with our sleep.


If you change your exercise habits and don’t see changes for the better in your sleep schedule, don’t hesitate to reach out to a doctor or take advantage of on-campus resources. It’s possible that something else is causing your problem–perhaps even something that has nothing to do with your surroundings. Sleep is vital, and it can affect your academic performance, so keep your eye on this issue. Good luck!


“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” — John Steinbeck

Provided in cooperation with Scholarship Media


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here